‘Make him feel that he is dying.’
Putting aside Gaius Caligula’s sadism in his instructions to the executioners of his victims, this week there are more than a few companies feeling like they’re dying. Without me personally condoning or condemning I’ll let you decide who those are.
You have the autonomy to do that.
What did catch my eye this week was the wave of nostalgia which broke upon the shore at the news of IBM retiring the Lotus brand. I find nostalgia in technology to be pointless at best and dangerous at worst. You work in an industry which can only move forward even if you think you’ve seen an idea before, that doesn’t mean you forget the past but you should make sure to keep it there.
When I think of Lotus I think of two things.
1- It’s been driving growth of Microsoft Exchange for over a decade and now that’s over. Exchange is taking numerous shots to the groin from Google Apps and the like while the Fortune 500 is pretty much tapped out for people who might be interested in migrations to Exchange. We’ll see what happens when there are no easy Domino server and Notes application swap outs left.
The brand might be gone but the products are not. Though if you’ve ever suffered under having to use Notes you most certainly wish they were.
2- Bill Gates had waltzed Lotus down the acquisition aisle back in the 80’s only to find his bride to be had cold feet and she took off as fast as she could in the opposite direction. Gates-era Microsoft (Back when Microsoft was a terrifying competitor, not the case today) did what Gates-era Microsoft always did. It wrote a lot of code, bought some code, (PowerPoint was a 1987 acquisition) created MS:Office demolished Lotus SmartSuite and then circled back with Exchange to conquer the Groupware market Lotus created.
Regardless of if it was IBM or Microsoft, Lotus had it’s card marked as an independent software provider years ago. That’s not to say they didn’t have some of the brightest application developers in the world.
Some of the coolest people I knew worked for Lotus but while whip smart and with it they had the sense of urgency of a glacier in the middle of an ice age. That appeared to be the de facto company failing.
All in all don’t mourn for Lotus.
It was too hip and too dysfunctional a company to live.